Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Recipe for Pressing Solution

This stuff is great! It is cheap. It needs no refrigeration. The ingredients are easy to obtain.

To save money (to buy more fabric, of course!) I mix my own recipe and I'm very happy with it. One batch lasts me roughly one year. I mix it in a clean rinsed out gallon jug that cranberry juice came in.

I love the sensation of pressing/ironing with clouds of floral fragrance of my own choosing. The scent comes from essential oils that are sold in tiny vials in health food stores.

Some people have questioned the addition of the vodka in the mix. I believe that it acts as a natural emulsifier between the oil scent and the water-based starch. It may also be a preservative, although I've never had starch go sour or bad.

The liquid starch was purchased at my local Walmart, but some grocery stores carry it also.
I keep a second spray bottle with just plain well water which we have on tap. The plain water spray is what I use for when I am pressing/ironing fabric or blocks that will be used in one of my internet swaps. Swap rules always insist on fragrance free participation for the consideration of those poor dears who suffer from allergies. I am not afflicted so I revel in the scents. Right now I'm using attar of roses with a tiny hint of carnation.
 Due to yesterday's work helping setting up at the quilt show, I did not do any piecing. That made me sad and grouchy when I got home too tired to play. So after a good night's sleep, I ran downstairs, well, no, I hobbled gingerly downstairs, to the Quilt Cave.

I now have enough of those Civil War snowballs and nine patches to add on to make my Mr. Bojangles quilt top bigger.

I figure I need 21 blocks for a column of ten down plus eleven across. I made a couple of extra because I wasn't sure if I needed more of the snowballs or more of the 9-patches for the addition. My driveway asphalt is just a little too wet and windy from the tail end of last night's rain, so I will not likely be laying them out today.
As is my usual, I did bother to make the bonus HST's on the flippy corners that I have sewn on all these snowballs. I used some that were already pressed as leaders & enders. Hey, I got two more Ocean Waves blocks done this way! Yippee!
They sure are a finicky mess to press. I starched the everliving bejesus out of them, as my Dad would've said. Then they behave!
Before my feet and legs began to complain too much (they're such whiners!), I was able to cut the 3 1/2" blocks from their previously sewn strips.

This is for a rail fence all in greens for a community comfort quilt. Jean Vaillaincourt had the idea and she and I have been poking along on it. We have invited the guild's participation and we hope to get a good response.
Each of these little stacks are 10 or 11 blocks. The top blocks on the far right were sewn from Fat Quarters rather than Width Of Fabric yardage. I chose to sew the leftover end cuts together to squeeze yet one or two more blocks out of the FQ. It does make an internal seam in the block, but it IS a SCRAP quilt, right?

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Hanging Party

There was a huge conflict of interests this Friday.

1. Matthew needed to do a very important computer lab for his Information Technology coursework in Concord, New Hampshire.

2. Felix needed to load his Mountaineer and set up his sales booth at the Manchester, New Hampshire Gun Show.

3. I needed to help all day from 9 to 5 with the hanging party at the Belknap Mill Quilter's Guild 35th Annual Harvest of Quilts.

The logistics of getting everybody everywhere they needed to be was challenging but it all worked out perfectly! I spent much time and energy working the physical labor of hanging so many quilts that I have only a few raw pictures to share with you.

Here is the empty hall with "pipe & drape" booths for vendors and a large bank of potted chrysanthemums waiting to be placed all about the show for decoration. We rent the pipe & drape and it is very useful, not only for defining spaces, but also for a surface for pinning wall hangings and small quilts onto for display. Those concrete floors are very hard on your feet and legs as you are racing around.
That is my Husband Wonderful, Felix, resting from having carried in these two big rockers from the Mountaineer in the rain. All of the props you see in the background here are temporarily in this hallway while the quilts are being brought in by their respective owners to be hung. We hang the quilts that is, not the owners. Well, unless they forgot to put sleeves onto their quilts, maybe. Then we hang both the quilts and their owners!
We are blessed with a few very helpful and loyal husbands who work so very hard setting up our white-painted wooden standards for the quilt racks.
Above you can see the rolling gondola carrying the white pieces to be assembled into quilt racks. Most modern guilds use manufactured PVC pipes. We voted to keep our wooden ones for the aesthetics, the economy, and the ecology. The bases, when assembled, are the perfect place to nestle a potted mum beside the start of a row.
That's a shot of my quilt, "Humble Pie" hanging just before other quilts were hung in the row in front of it. We try to keep spacing such that the quilts can all be viewed well, but it is challenging!
These two doubled up work tables hold quilt pairs that are waiting to be hung, front and back on either side of a rack. Once cleared, the tables will become the demonstration area.

Here are Diane, Marie-Louise, and Debby at the props check-in where you are given a receipt with your insurance coverage estimate for your treasures brought in to help decorate the show. We had many rockers, several antique doll cribs and cradles, a basket/bentwood highchair, some raggedy Ann and Andy pairs, a cloth scarecrow and witch, even a stuffed patchwork turkey!

As for me, I'm glad to be home in a fetal crouch with my ibuprofin gel caps. My muscles hurt already! I will post more photos Sunday night.

The Belknap Mill Quilter's Guild 35th Annual Harvest of Quilts show is on both Saturday & Sunday, 10 to 5 at the Conference Center at Lake Opechee Inn, in Lakeport, a section of Laconia, New Hampshire. Admission is $5 for an adult, $3 for a student, and veteran's are welcomed free of charge.
If you are planning on coming on Saturday, you might like to bring your grandmother's old family quilt with you to have Julie Crossland appraise it for you. I think that last year she charged $45 per quilt and you get her appraisal value in writing.

Home made soups and simple sandwiches with coffee and muffins are available both days. It is a great little show, we hope you'll come to enjoy it with us!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Simple Celebrations

Frequently, I catch myself "saving the good stuff." My old ironing board cover is stained with starchy scorch marks and the last time I had washed it I had trouble getting it properly tied back down. So as I was pressing, and pressing, and pressing that Mr. Bojangles Civil War Twisted Ribbons top, I was also constantly readjusting the pad and the cover as they both migrated off the board. UGH!

Now, mind you, Husband Wonderful, Felix, had bought me a brand new one from Clotilde's catalogue for my MAY anniversary present. I know, I know. I had to circle it in the catalogue, dog-ear the right page, and tell him that this was what I wanted. But bless his heart, he DID follow through and spend the $36 plus shipping to get it for me. Now you'll see why I did not want to make my own!

Look at that gorgeous one inch grid!!!!!

I put it on last night and was thrilled at how well made it was by the Golden Hands company made in the USA. The all 100% cotton fabric was twice the weight of the original cover that came with this from Wal-mart when we bought it. To try to keep it nice, I sprayed it with Scotchguard stain repellent.

As I made more sets of 9-patches for Mr. Bojangles, I noticed that it was easier to press more accurately by lining edges up on the one inch grid. I love it!! Yippee!

Such fun to work with the CivilWar reproductions because the colors are mellow and the designs are intricate.
I had added that next row but decided that I wanted to even go further out with still another row.
I may make the decision to keep adding just a little at a time and as I am making strip-piecing sets, I get 8 matching blocks at a time. That doesn't work very well with the scrappy look because too many match each other.
I'll use a few and have lots leftover for a Civil War crib quilt, maybe. Not sure yet, but I'm just having fun making them. Mostly, I used the next block piece as my leader or ender, but when that wasn't convenient, I used the Ocean waves HST's. I got this block done today doing it that way.
The other cause for celebration was the last of the labels got sewn on today!!!
I had some minor printer problems with a paper jam, but fortunately, Felix was home to help me out of the mess I'd made of it! If you don't recall what the quilt looks like, here it is:
It's Bonnie K. Hunter's Happy Scrappy Houses and Linda Monasky of the Bear Paw Gallery in Alton, NH quilted a pretty clouds motif all over it.
The backing is a cute cherries print that I think was Marcus brothers, but this one is not flannel, since it is going to a Florida friend.

So that means that I am really, really, really for the quilt show set up party on Friday! Yahooo!

As for Raven, she was celebrating that her favorite futon quilt had just come home from the "Just Wash It" laundromat in Loudon, New Hampshire.

I believe that this dog can actually revel in her sleep.

Felix and I look over at her and point and silently giggle.

I swear, it lowers your blood pressure just to look at Raven sleeping.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Little Old Label-maker, Me!

There is nothing like a looming deadline to light a fire under my tailfeathers and get me motivated! With this Friday being the grand hanging party for the quilt show, I need the finishing touches. Today I was sewing previously made labels onto a couple of quilts.
I believe in very simple informational quilt labels. They are there to document the facts for future reference. I'd like to hope that my quilts are well made enough to be around in a hundred years and maybe still attractive enough by then to be desired.
I have no children, just a couple of nieces and a nephew, and God knows they won't remember anything about my quiltmaking. So it's up to me to provide the data. I like including the dimensions of the quilt, and where it was made, as well as the date, and credits.

These Fons & Porter sheets work great in my inkjet printer, but they are very expensive, almost $30 bucks for a package of five sheets. So I type out four to a page in my old 2003 Office Word program and make sure that I choose the "B" for Bold type. It pays to print out a sample on regular printer paper first to verify spacing and spelling.
After they are printed, I iron the label very thoroughly to heat set the ink, then peel off the paper backing. The labels are quite stiff. I flip the label over, spray the backside with starch, and then turn back the raw edge a 1/4" on all sides and press them down.
Next I use some Elmer's Washable School Glue, (the clear stuff that is starch-based) to run a bead about 1/2" in from the folded edge on the back of the label, and put it into position to heat set it with a hot iron.
This holds the label VERY securely, even on cotton flannel, for when I am stitching it onto the quilt by hand. It is very tough sewing, but worth it! If you didn't see Windmills Of Your Mind before, here are some pictures of it.

Very soon, the Quilt Police will be here to arrest me for using all Civil War reproduction fabrics in a modern Strip & Slash type of design. I think it is Hidden Wells, but I'm not sure. I used Jenny Doan's video from The Missouri Star Quilt Company. to make this, but it is all authentic Civil War stuff.
Here are more labels on Humble Pie,

and on the huge Calliope Music, too.

That means I have only one left to label, YEAY!!!!!

I've also been using those weensy little Ocean Waves HST's as leaders & enders as I go along. Pressing and trimming them is quite an effort, so after I press a big-ish bunch, I'm very ready to sit down to trim the dogears. Whew!
When I get an Ocean Waves "A" block done, it looks so rumpled!
Here is exactly the same block after a good starching and pressing.
My piecing is far from perfect, but here is the front. Great, huh?
I got two done today! Yippeee!
And last night, at dusk when the breezes died down, I laid out those extra blocks that I'm adding on to the Twisted Ribbons (a.k.a. Snowball/9-Patch) Civil War quilt to make it bigger.
Here it is not yet sewn on the far right column and the very bottom row. I wanted to be sure that there was a fairly even color distribution.

You know, random placement???? LOL! Carefully placed random placement is more like it. I worked for 30 minutes switching blocks around!

Nice day for drying too.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Today IS Someday!

You have all heard me making my promises to myself that "Someday I will make "Ocean Waves." Each time I make flippy corners when piecing blocks, I always make the effort to sew the second seam to create the tiny bonus HST's. They are only 2" unfinished! And I have a bazillion of them!
This basket is over a foot tall and is brimming with them!
They are from all different quilts over the past three or so years, so boy, howdy, are they ever scrappy! Brights, florals, Civil War stuff, it's all here.
When I was at Bonnie K. Hunter's workshop this past June at the Vermont Quilt Fest, I mentioned to her that I was hoarding these to do her pattern version of Ocean Waves.
Bonnie's immediate response was to, "Get started on it right away!" This is three months later. In my life, that counts as, "right away!"

So today is someday!

I got a bunch of those little HST's pressed and trimmed their dainty little dog-ears. Then I used a printed paper copy of the blocks, A and B, and had it right beside me at the machine for reference. I chose to do just A blocks at first, to be less confusing.
These two blocks are only 6 1/2" square!!!! The way I chose to do it, I sewed two HST's into a "two-sie", then sewed the two-sies into a little 4-patch, then sewed four of those together into the block.

I like them!!!

I think I should mix up the colors more, though, and not have so many matchies, don't cha think?

There are still labels to be made and put on for the quilt show and set up is this FRIDAY the 28th, YIKES!!!! I'd better put the pedal to the metal! Here's my hand drawn label for my dear friend, Wanda, who's quilt was a gift to me.
This is no ordinary string quilt. What sets it apart is the fact that it was sewn after Wanda had suffered two massive strokes, losing complete control of the left side of her body.

She is a quilter that will not accept defeat! Wanda's wonderful husband, Dave, helps her by tying the quilts.
I cannot be prouder of Wanda and her life-lesson to all of us. I love this quilt so very much!

The weather is a sparkling and breezy 72 degrees, so a few pieces got rinsed out in Orvus in my oversized bathroom sink and popped out onto the clothesline to dry.
As I was walking back from my clothesline, the Rose of Sharon was smiling at me by showing her beautiful blooms. This plant was a gift from another internet friend, from Georgia, who's name is Bonnie. She mailed me a little rooted slip about four years ago.  I have had to spray it often with Deer-Repel or all the blossom buds get munched as the deer browse in the Spring.
The flowers are a soft pink with cranberry colored centers.
Thank you so much, my friend, for bringing me this joy! I truly hope that the mock orange slip that I sent you has grown for you and bloomed, too!

Early this morning, I did the bindings on a few more potholders that I'm hoping will sell at the new Quilty Boutique Booth at the show.
These were made from some of those famous $.25 apiece scraps from Keepsake Quilting's scrap bins.
That green tone-on-tone in the center of the sawtooth star pictured above came from The Quilted Frog Quiltshop, which is on the way home from The Mothership (a.k.a. Keepsake Quilting). I find that with all this practice, I'm steadily improving at the machine bindings.

I've got a baker's dozen now, finished and ready to sell. I plan on asking $6.00 each and two for $10.00. They take me over an hour to complete, but I'm slow. LOL!

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